KS - 82 Min. Outage; Failed Transformer

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Outage pulls plug on city businesses By Brady McCombs, Journal-World Writer

Saturday, July 29, 2000

A failed transformer led to an 82-minute power outage Friday evening in northwest Lawrence and Lecompton.

Nearly 3,000 customers were without power from 8 p.m. to 9:22 p.m., KPL spokesman Mark Schreiber said. A transformer at Baldwin Creek Substation in northwest Lawrence failed, bringing on the outage, he said. The failure was not caused by rain or lightning.

"They had to go out and identify the problem at the substation," Schreiber said. "It's a pretty sizable outage, but we were able to reroute the power and get them back on."

In Lawrence, the outage stretched north to Peterson Road, east to Monterey Way, south to 15th Street and west to the city limits.

Pizza Hut, Blockbuster Video, Dillons, Hy-Vee, Arby's and J.B. Stout's Grille and Bar were among businesses unable to operate during the outage.

Jim Lund, general manager of J.B. Stout's, 721 Wakarusa Drive, said his restaurant went pitch dark with a full house and a 45-minute waiting list.

He estimated actual lost business and potential business on what normally is one of the restaurant's busiest nights at $5,000 or more.

It wasn't a good day for Lund. First, he set off the burglar alarms on the restaurant about 7:30 a.m., necessitating a visit by Lawrence Police. Then, he discovered that 15 empty kegs had been stolen from the restaurant.

"I've had a fun day," he dead-panned.

Lund said that during the outage his customers were orderly and polite.

Sarah Burkett, shift manager at Pizza Hut, 4651 W. Sixth, said the business lost 20 pizzas and had to cancel 10 deliveries. She said between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. Friday usually is a prime delivery time. She estimated more than $500 in lost business.

"It was our busiest Friday in a while when the power went out," another shift manager, Pete Gaines, said.

At Dillons, 3000 W. Sixth, employees were forced to move all frozen goods to walk-in freezers in the back of the store.

"There were a fair amount of people here, but no one freaked out or anything, which is good," employee Chris Dull said, adding, "Can you say 'lost business?'"

Schreiber said KPL will investigate the failed transformer.

"We will keep the power rerouted until we make sure everything is back up to speed at the substation," Schreiber said.


-- (Dee360Degree@aol.com), July 29, 2000

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